Teen held in his mom’s death

A teenager was arrested Wednesday in the shooting death of his mother in North Las Vegas, but the motive behind the slaying is not yet known.

Mitchell Theodore Lavender, 19, is accused of killing the 52-year-old woman early Wednesday inside the family’s home on Cobblestone Cove Road, near Washburn Road and Bruce Street, according to North Las Vegas police.

Officers went to the home at 12:55 a.m. after receiving reports of gunshots. Upon arrival, police found a woman who had been critically shot. She was transported to University Medical Center, where she died.

Police did not immediately release the name of the victim or the relationship between the suspect and victim. North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell confirmed that both were related and lived at the home.

A friend of the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, identified the slain woman as Michelle Lavender, a former police dispatcher in the Detroit area.

She said Lavender had been diagnosed with multiple brain aneurysms before she left Michigan for Las Vegas, and had been told she had just “several years to live.”

“She was just trying to get out and make the best of her life,” said the friend, who lives in Michigan. “We expected to get a phone call about her death, but not like this.”

Neighbor Tom Perretta, 50, confirmed that Mitchell Lavender was the son of the victim. Perretta did not hear the gunshots, but spoke to police outside the home.

“They just said there had been a dispute and a woman had been shot,” he said.

Perretta said the family from Detroit moved into the home in April or May. A Jeep in the Lavenders’ driveway had a Michigan license plate.

The family was renting the home, Perretta said. The mother and father were unemployed, he said, and an older son who is in his 20s worked at Nellis Air Force Base.

The family had told Perretta that the suspect, Mitchell Lavender, had moved back to Michigan in search of a job. Perretta didn’t know that he had returned to Las Vegas.

The owner of the home was reached in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning. The owner, who asked not to be named, said she hadn’t spoken to North Las Vegas police and had only recently learned a woman had been killed inside the home.

She declined to confirm the names of the renters.

“Obviously, something very bad happened last night,” she said.

Police had left the scene by 8 a.m. Wednesday. A man who appeared to be in his early 20s, wearing a camouflage jacket, arrived at the home at about 9 a.m., but declined to speak about the slaying.

“I’m not allowed to say anything,” he said.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at or 702-383-0283.


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